Digital Workflow

Today, I am just sharing some tips for how to keep organized and the digital tools I use to make it all happen.

First of all, I love my Levenger Circa paper planner. Sometime you just need paper and pencil and this system is top notch! Their paper is top quality and you can add pages/paper by using their Circa punch. That is the extent of my paper use. It’s more of a back up if/when I need paper.

99% of my daily workflow is digital using the following tools:

Noteshelf – Using Noteshelf helps me process new information and make connections. I am believer in the power of handwritten notes, doodles, art, and images to help make connections. (Sidenote: I love this tools so much, they featured me in their blog.) My love for colored pens, highlighting, and adding images when note taking is satisfied with this wonder iPad app. You have more writing tools you can carry and you can customize and organize your notebooks. This is my absolute favorite note taking app!

You create your notebooks that are stored on your shelf. You can even customize the covers with your own photos.


You can also have PDFs (that you can annotate) in your notebook!


The are handwritten (digital) notes within the notebook.


This is an up close look at a page.


One Note – If need typed notes, this is my go-to app. I usually type notes that I need to specifically need to reference to at a later date. I sync OneNote across all my devices (Work PC, MacBook, iMac, iPad, and iPhone). I always my notes at my fingertips. OneNote also has a powerful search feature that is useful when searching for specific notes or topics.


Google Forms – Google forms is an efficient way to collect data. In my current role, I use a standard form in order to track campus visits, as well as document a general summary of the visit. the power of this tool is the spreadsheet of data it collects. You have all of your data in one place and can sort the data and create charts and diagram using the built in explore feature. You can also share a summary of the data with others.


Google Keep – Google Keep is designed for note taking; however I find this tool especially helpful for anytime I need to attach photos with notes. In my current position, that is usually during campus learning walks and teacher professional learning. Not only are these great visuals, you can also share your notes with other and export the note into a Google doc.  This is a great feature for sharing and archiving notes in your Google Drive.

google keep

What digital tools do you use?


I received this message from a student I taught in a principal leadership program a few years ago. I was so grateful she shared these words with me.shero

Ok, so I really teared up. As I read this I kept thinking the following: If she only knew how many times I wanted to give up. If she only knew that I believe in pursuing your passions full force, even if that means people judge me and think I take on too much. If she only knew how much these words meant coming from another woman of color, as we face much different challenges in the workforce. If she only new how she uplifted me. More importantly, what if we all took time to let people know when they have truly inspired us?

As random as this message appeared to be, it came right on time. At a time where I truly need to engage in some personal reflection and do some goal setting. Time to sharpen my saw!

The Bottom Line

No significant learning occurs without a

Summer is the season of professional learning as educators prepare for the upcoming academic school year. As an adjunct professor, we also spend time together, as a faculty, to reflect on our mission and goals. At our recent meeting, we spent time looking at data. Not grade point averages, not enrollment data, not student demographics data… we looked at student survey data- what students believe about their experience at our university.  Student were asked the following questions:

  1. Do you have a professor who makes learning exciting for you?
  2. Do you have a professor who utilizes assignments and learning activities that challenge you to go deeper and apply your knowledge?
  3. Has one of your professors developed a relationship with you that clearly demonstrates his or her care for you?
  4. Do you have a professor who encourages you to see out, identify, and pursue your calling(s) and passion(s)?
  5. Do you have a professor who has aided your Christian walk and helped you grow in your intimacy and connection with God?

The bottom line- our students want to development relationships with us! They need to feel connected. They need to feel we are invested in their success after we submit final grades each semester.(These are PK-16 need for all learners!) We were each challenged to review our syllabus and learning activities and determine what we are going to change in order to meet the needs of our students. I have always put emphasis on students demonstrating mastery of content through projects and application-based learning activities. However, truly reflecting on these questions, I mean really letting the student responses settle with my soul, I knew I could do more. Here are a few ideas I came up with:

  • Offer time before and after class for open discussion and coaching conversations- a time to discuss academic and personal successes, issues, challenges
  • Spend more time during our first class session to do more community building activities and get to know each other at a deeper level.
  • Have a repertoire of devotional lessons to connect with what students are experiencing.
  • Pray with my students, especially for those that are are experiencing academic or personal challenges.

I am starting year three of teaching at the university level, and I reflect each semester and revamp my syllabus and learning activities. Each group of students bring different experiences to the classroom. My goal is to continue to become a better educator, day by day, book by book, faculty meeting by faculty meeting. I’m all in. I am invested in the success of each learner I touch. This year, my goal is to stay rooted in Christ-centered servant leadership. 2015-2016 will be the best yet!

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. -Colossians 2:6-7

The Reading Strategies Book

“Effective reading strategies are like my favorite recipes; they teach you how to accomplish something that is not yet automatic in a broken down, step-by-step manner.” – Jennifer Serravallo, The Reading Strategies Book: Your EVERYTHING Guide to Developing Skilled Readers


Jennifer Serravallo created the ultimate book of reading strategies. This resource is a must have for schools with the goal of developing skilled readers! Let me explain in terms of who can benefit:

  • Campus Leadership: Assistant principals usually coordinate the RtI process and instructional intervention plans. This books will help identify and create individual goals for learners, determine the appropriate strategy and give you ideas for intervention lessons. Best of all, these can be implemented IN the classroom setting by the teacher.In my experience as an assistant principal, I often got responses like, “He can’t read. She struggles with reading. He doesn’t try to sound out words. She is not on grade level in reading. He has so many gaps, I don’t know where to start.”  Teachers often have difficulty identify the specifics of the instructional issue. It can be very overwhelming yo determine and prioritize the needs of readers. This book will help teachers:
    • identify specific instructional goals
    • identify guidelines for readers to practice and apply strategies
    • give helpful feedback to move the reader forward
  • Literacy Specialist/Instructional Coach: This resource can help with coaching conversations with individual teachers or grade level teams. Specialists and coaches can use this as a guide for helping teachers identify and prioritize goals for their readers.
  • Classroom Teacher: This is truly a comprehensive book to help teachers develop individual reading goals or goals for reading strategy groups. This a a GREAT resource for reading strategy groups! The lessons in this book can fit into any balanced literacy program.

The book is organized around the following goals for developing skilled readers:

  1. Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers
  2. Teaching Reading Engagement: Focus, Stamina, and Building a Reading Life
  3. Supporting Print Work: Increasing Accuracy and Integrating Sources of Information
  4. Teaching Fluency: Reading with Paraphrasing, Intonation, and Automaticity
  5. Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Understanding Plot and Setting
  6. Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Thinking About Characters
  7. Supporting Comprehension in Fiction: Understanding Themes and Ideas
  8. Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Determining Maint Topic(s) and Idea(s)
  9. Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Determining Key Details
  10. Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction: Getting the Most from Text Features
  11. Improving Comprehension in Fiction and Nonfiction: Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language
  12. Supporting Students’ Conversations: Speaking, Listening, and Deepening Comprehension
  13. Improving Writing About Reading

Each chapter starts with a research-based explanation of WHY the goal is important to developing skilled readers. Serravallo also gives you suggestions on how to assess students, because it crucial that the strategy matches the child’s goal and the texts they are reading. Strategy lessons include the following (depending on the lesson): Level, Genre/Text Type, Skill, Strategy, Prompts, Teaching Tips, Language Lesson, and Visuals.


I highly recommend this book! You can also see my tweets @lsqualls about this book below. This book is something to get EXCITED about in the world of literacy!

Reading Comprehension

I finally had the opportunity to read Taberski’s Comprehension from the Ground Up today! This learning experience allowed me to reflect on my teaching practices when I was a classroom teacher as well as give me insight on how to continue to develop curriculum that support readers and writers. I’ve decided to share my digital notes from some of my main “take-a-ways”, but I must add- my physical book if filled with hand-written notes, post-it notes, page markers! Great read from a passionate educator! (Click on the image below to access all the notes- enjoy!)

Link to My Digital Notes: Comprehension from the Ground Up